Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

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Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Group Shot by Jacob Blickenstaff.jpg
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings pictured in 2015
Background information
OriginBrooklyn, New York, United States
GenresFunk, soul, R&B
Years active1996–2016
Associated actsMark Ronson & The Business INTL, Antibalas, The Budos Band, Amy Winehouse, Kesha, Menahan Street Band, Michael Buble
Past membersSharon Jones (deceased)
Binky Griptite
David Guy
Bosco Mann
Neal Sugarman
Joe Crispiano
Fernando Velez
Homer Steinweiss
Cochemea Gastelum
Saundra Williams
Starr Duncan-Lowe
Leon Michels
Earl Maxton
Anda Szilagyi
Todd M. Simon
Thomas Brenneck
Ian Hendrickson-Smith

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings were an American funk and soul band signed to Daptone Records. They were part of a revivalist movement recreating mid-1960s to mid-1970s style funk and soul music.[1] In December 2014, the band was nominated for a Grammy, in the category Best R&B Album of the Year for Give the People What They Want.[2]

Sharon Jones died in 2016, with the band releasing the posthumous final album Soul of a Woman in 2017. Her backing band have since performed together live and worked with other artists.[3]

Desco: the early years[edit]

In the mid-1990s, Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann) founded a band called the Soul Providers, and began recording an album of James Brown-inspired instrumentals and vocal collaborations with deep funk recording artist Lee Fields.[4] After hearing Sharon Jones, a former corrections officer turned singer,[5] record backing vocals for a Fields track, Lehman and Roth recorded a solo track of Jones singing "Switchblade", a song which had been intended for a man's voice. This track along with another Jones solo, "The Landlord", were included on the Soul Providers debut album Soul Tequila, released in about 1996 on the now-defunct French label Pure Records.

Lehman and Roth then started a new label in Brooklyn, New York called Desco Records, with a studio and distribution office in the basement of the Desco vacuum cleaner store on West 41st Street. They reissued Soul Tequila as a vinyl-only LP and renamed Gimme The Paw, and included only one of the Jones collaborations, "Switchblade".[6]

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Moers Festival 2007

Desco showcased its artists with revue-style shows and released their music on vinyl 45-rpm records. Jones, backed by the Soul Providers who had become the Desco house band, released three 45s for the label. Recording dates were deliberately omitted from the labels and the records were often marketed as being released in the 1970s. Two other Soul Providers albums were released, an instrumental soundtrack to a Sam Lung kung-fu film, The Revenge of Mr Mopoji, credited to Mike Jackson and the Soul Providers, and a solo album by Lee Fields, Let's Get a Groove On, for which the Soul Providers provided the backing.

Daptone: a new label and the birth of the Dap-Kings[edit]

In 2000 Lehman and Roth decided to part ways, and the Soul Providers disbanded. Lehman set up Soul Fire Records; Roth started Daptone Records with Sugarman 3 saxophonist Neal Sugarman. A new group, the Dap-Kings, was formed, consisting of label owners Roth on bass and Neal Sugarman on saxophone, plus original Soul Providers: guitarist Binky Griptite, organist Earl Maxton, percussionist Fernando Velez and trumpeter Anda Szilagyi. Joining them were original members of the Mighty Imperials whose album, Thunder Chicken, was the last release on the Desco label: tenor saxophonist Leon Michels and drummer Homer Steinweiss.

The band secured a summer residency at The Boite, a club in Barcelona, Spain, and recorded an LP, Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2001. A few hundred copies were pressed, so that sales during the residency would provide financial support for what would have otherwise been a financially draining trip. Promotional copies were sent to funk DJs and reviewers, and the album was officially released as the first LP and CD on Daptone Records in 2002, and attracted an enthusiastic review from quarterly hip-hop and funk magazine Big Daddy.[7]

Following the album, three 45s not on the album were also released: "What If We all Stopped Paying Taxes", released in 2002 just ahead of the U.S. Election, was a militant anti-war statement denouncing the Iraq War. "Genuine (parts 1 & 2" (2004) was a hard funk record. Their cover of "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)", released in 2005, was recorded for a KFC commercial in 2002 but was never used.

Personnel changes[edit]

About this time Maxton and Szilagyi left the band to become members of Antibalas, a New York-based afrobeat band. Trumpeter David Guy and guitarist Thomas Brenneck joined in their stead. In 2003 the Daptone Recording Studio, with a sixteen track analog tape machine, was open for business. The band intended to record two albums back-to-back, but during the final sessions of the first of these albums, Roth suffered serious eye injuries in a car crash, and only one LP and CD, Naturally, was released in 2005. This album included a mix of both soul and funk influences; the production and recording values were crisper than the slightly duller "scratchy 45" sound of the first album. The band embarked on an international promotional tour.

Michels left the band soon after the release of Naturally to help start a new label, Truth & Soul Records, and released a solo LP that was originally intended for Daptone, Sounding Out The City, credited to El Michels Affair. When Lehman closed the Soul Fire label and moved to the Bahamas, the back catalog of Soul Fire was handled by Truth & Soul Records who, along with Soul Fire, used many of the same artists in their recordings, including Lee Fields, Homer Steinweiss, Thomas Brenneck and Michels himself. The Dap-kings took on Ian Hendrickson-Smith, a local saxophone player who had released several jazz albums under his own name.

In late 2006, the band recorded a third studio album, 100 Days, 100 Nights. A non-album funk-style single, "I'm Not Gonna Cry", was released in April 2007, and the album was released in October along with two B Sides or Bonus Tracks: "Settlin' In" and "The Collection Song".

Further albums included I Learned the Hard Way (2010),[8] Give the People What They Want (2014), and the holiday release It's a Holiday Soul Party. Also in 2014, Jones and her band performed at the Hamilton, Ontario Supercrawl.[9]

A film about Jones' battle with pancreatic cancer was released in 2016, with a soundtrack compilation. Jones died on November 18, 2016 at the age of 60.[10] No specific announcement has been made regarding the band's future; however, The Dap-Kings have subsequently performed at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017[11] and were the house band for Joe's Pub Presents: A Holiday Special which taped in November, 2016.[12]


Six of the tracks on Amy Winehouse's 2006 album Back to Black feature various members of the Dap-Kings, including two hits from the album, "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good". Several tracks recorded at Daptone Studios are mis-credited as "Dapking Studios". Various members of the band feature on all but one of the track on Mark Ronson's second album, Version (2007). The Dap-Kings became the backing band for Amy Winehouse's first U.S. tour.[13]

In 2007 the Dap-Kings worked with British singer Ben Westbeech to record a new version of his song "So Good Today". Jones lends her vocals on one song "The Way We Lived", on Wax Tailor's second album Hope & Sorrow, released in April 2007. Jones is also featured on releases by They Might Be Giants (The Else) and Rufus Wainwright (Release the Stars).

Jones contributed six period numbers by Bessie Smith and others to the soundtrack for the film The Great Debaters, recorded in the Ardent Studio in Memphis. Jones is also a featured on the Verve Records Baby Loves Jazz books/CDs and has had character books published by Penguin Books in conjunction with the series, entitled Ella the Elephant: Scats Like That.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are featured on Michael Bublé's 2009 album, Crazy Love, in the track "Baby (You've got what it takes)".[14] In the fall of 2009 Sharon Jones and David Guy appeared with Phish for their musical costume at Phish's Festival 8 in Indio California, where they covered The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St..

The Dap-Kings horn section backed The Heavy in a 2010 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and they appeared with Muse on Saturday Night Live in 2012, providing support during their performance of Panic Station.[15]

The Dap-Kings appear on the 2012 David Byrne and St. Vincent collaboration Love This Giant. Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinwess appears on St. Vincent's self-titled fifth album.

In 2014, The Dap-Kings horn section collaborated with the Antibalas horn section, Mark Ronson, and Bruno Mars to record Uptown Funk and other tracks from Mark Ronson's 2015 album Uptown Special. They also performed Uptown Funk together on Saturday Night Live in November 2014.[16]

In February 2017, The Dap-Kings served as the backing band for country musician Sturgill Simpson's performance of his song "All Around You" at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.[11]

In July 2017, it was revealed that The Dap-Kings Horns collaborated with Kesha on her song "Woman", from her album Rainbow.

Use in advertisements[edit]

In 2006, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings were featured in an I Love NY commercial directed by Kurt Lustgarten and set to their cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land". The band's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" appeared in a Chase Manhattan Bank commercial that same year. In Australia, their song "Got a Thing on my Mind" featured in a 2005 commercial for Cadbury's Boost Chocolate bar.

In 2008 Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings worked with Tropicana on a song promoting Tropicana orange juice, titled "Sweet & Lovely." Ziggy Marley and Bebel Gilberto were featured in similar projects.

In 2015, the song "100 Days, 100 Nights" was used in a FitBit commercial.[17] In 2016, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings appeared in a video covering the Allman Brothers song "Midnight Rider" for Lincoln Motors.


Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", from the album Naturally, plays over the opening credits of the 2009 film, Up in the Air. The song is also the first track on the Up in the Air soundtrack album.[18]

The same cover plays over the end credits of both the 2007 film Dark Matter and the How to Make It in America episode "Paper, Denim + Dollars."

"How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?" was featured in the first season for the television series Hung and included on the soundtrack album. "Longer And Stronger", a previously unreleased track, also made an appearance on the For Colored Girls: Music From and Inspired by the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack in 2010.

"Money", "The Reason", and "Keep On Looking" are used in the video game Sleeping Dogs, which was released in August 2012. The songs can be heard on an in-game radio station called "Daptone Radio".

In the 2011 movie Henry's Crime, the songs "Answer Me", "100 Days 100 Nights", "Got a Thing On My Mind", "Stranded in Your Love", "Be Easy", and "Let Them Knock" were featured in the film. The band appeared in the 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street. They also appear performing "100 Days 100 Nights" at the end of the 13th episode of Netflix's Luke Cage.




  1. ^ Milligan, Nick (December 2010). "Soul Sacrifice". Reverb Magazine (53). Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  2. ^ "57th Annual Grammy Awards Winners & Nominees". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  3. ^ Hughes, Hilary. "What it Took to Make Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' Final Album". Vulture. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  4. ^ Schneider, Jason (24 September 2007). "Soul Survivors: How Classic Rhythm & Blues Has Become Vital Once Again". Exclaim!. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
  5. ^ "Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Interview". Ace, September 14, 2010
  6. ^ Perry, Sarah (7 March 2012). "Smokin' Soul: The Story of Daptone Records". The Atlas Society. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself: Essays on Debut Albums". Google Books. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "I Learned the Hard Way" by Billboard, April 23, 2010.
  9. ^ "Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings James St. North, Hamilton ON, September 12". Exclaim!, By Calum Slingerland. Sep 13, 2015.
  10. ^ Newman, Jason (1956-05-04). "Sharon Jones, Soul and Funk Singer With Dap-Kings, Dead at 60". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  11. ^ a b Freeman, Joe (February 12, 2017). "See Sturgill Simpson's Majestic 'All Around You' at Grammys". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  12. ^ Calvario, Liz (November 22, 2016). "'Joe's Pub Presents: A Holiday Special': Tony Hale to Star in IFC's Comedy and Musical Event". IndieWire. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  13. ^ Sisario, Ben (29 September 2007). "She's Not Anybody's Backup Act". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Baby [You've Got What It Takes] [With Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings]: Michael Bublé: MP3 Downloads". Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  15. ^ "Videos: Madness and Panic Station on SNL". 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  16. ^ Rogers, Ray (2014-11-10). "Mark Ronson Says New Single With Bruno Mars 'Uptown Funk' Is a Milestone for Both of Them". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  17. ^ "Fitbit Charge HR TV Commercial, 'Know Your Heart'". Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  18. ^ "'Up In The Air' Soundtrack Features Elliott Smith, Black Keys Solo Member & Crosby, Stills & Nash; Due December 1". The Playlist. 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  19. ^ "Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Soul Time! - out on Daptone Records". Paris DJs. 31 Oct 2011. Retrieved 3 Nov 2011.

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